One of the goals of SPFBO is to give a chance to self-published authors to get more exposure. This year I’m taking part in the competition as an advisor for Fantasy Book Review’s judging team. I decided to offer a spot to the authors in our group and will post them throughout the year. To see all of our content regarding the competition, check out my SPFBO page!
Josh Erikson spent twelve years in the hospitality industry before life gave him a swift enough kick to propel him toward publishing his first book, Hero Forged. Now he splits his days between thinking up stories for awesome people, and spending time with his wife and two young children. He lives in rural Nebraska, does not own any livestock or cowboy boots, and likes corn a perfectly regular amount, thank you very much.
Welcome to the Asylum! Take a seat by the fire, have a glass of beverage of your choice and tell me something about yourself!
Thanks for having me! I’m normally a lemonade guy, but if the questions are going to get crazy I’d better loosen up with a chocolate milk. As for something interesting about me, my bio pretty much covers it. I’m legitimately boring outside of that single paragraph. Though, if it’s just us here, I will admit to being a singer. It’s probably the creative path I’d be taking if I wasn’t trying so hard to be a writer.
Say, you can live in the fantasy house/lair of your dreams. What would it look like?
A derelict shed on a swath of untamed land. Maybe a rusted car frame and patch of broken bottles for good measure. On the inside, it would be mostly empty except for one square of incongruously clean floor. That, obviously, is the secret express elevator down to my multi-level underground bunker mansion complete with private movie theater, arcade, and armory full of ancient weapons that I’m too afraid to play with.
What is your favorite fantasy creature and why?
I’ve never actually thought about this. I know dragons are probably the right answer, and you can’t go wrong with a good unicorn, but…my gut says Cheshire Cat. I really like quirky cleverness, and I’m fascinated with the kind of crazy that just straddles the edge without ever going over. Plus, everybody knows invisibility is the second best superpower after telekinesis.
Why did you decide to become an author and how did you end up choosing self-publishing?
Being an author chose me! Ha, sorry…I couldn’t write that with a straight face. The real answer is that I started writing as stress relief at my old job managing a hotel. (If you think retail is bad, you should try it when they’re staying overnight…) I was commuting and working long hours and could feel myself slipping away little by little–from myself and from my family. So when life lined up for it, I decided it was time to go all-in. Self-publishing was an extension of that. I tried querying agents for a while, but I quickly realized how bad my odds were without pesky things like credentials, or a marketing platform, or any kind of verifiable writing history to separate me from the guy submitting his 2,000 page manifesto on two-ply toilet paper. Then I realized how much MORE marketable that guy is than me, and I decided to go with self-publishing.
Which author would you say is your greatest influence as a writer?
Can I offer you a caramel? There, while you’re distracted chewing that, I’m going to cheat and give two answers: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Gaiman because he’s an absolute master at distilling the dark magic hidden just beneath the skin of the world, and everything he writes has multiple layers that only need to be there if you care enough to look. And Pratchett because he did all that too, only funnier and more succinctly. But Neil Gaiman was also my inspiration to perform my own audiobook, so they’re basically equal in my heart.
If you could go back in time and offer any advice to a younger Josh Erikson prior to releasing Hero Forged what would it be?
Probably the same stuff most indie authors would say, but marketing especially is a big, convoluted piece of nonsense that I wish I would have paid more attention to before it mattered. At this point, any success I’ve had has come with the help of cool, kind people who not only gave my book a shot, but also cared enough to talk about it. SPFBO is a perfect example of that.
What SPFBO means to you? What do you hope to gain (fame and wealth aside)?
Hey, look at that transition! Almost like we planned it. SPFBO means a great deal to me. Apart from the contest, it’s a community that I was sorely lacking. Indie publishing can feel pretty isolating, and this group has started to become a real touchstone for me. I’m normally terrible at putting myself forward, but I’ve already met quite a few great people as a result of the open arms and encouragement of everyone involved. With luck, that’ll continue and I’ll be able to say I’ve won regardless of how far I make it in the contest.
What inspires you/your world?
All kinds of things. But the best stuff is usually weird. I’ll see a piece of trash on the street that I mistake for a bird or something, and then I’ll wonder what would happen if trash could just fly itself into the wastebin. A few minutes later, I’m sitting in my car and coming up with a whole creation myth for D’Bris, goddess of the sentient trash people and she who will scour the world of all that is unsoiled.
Which character of your book do you identify with the most and why? Who would you like to live with in an asylum?
Gabe is my main character and definitely the easiest for me to write. He basically fakes his way through all the hard stuff in life and deflects everything else with humor. Unfortunately, that would make him the worst possible person to be trapped anywhere with. The other character, Heather, would be a way better choice. She’d be clever and competent enough to get me to shut up while she figured out a way to break us out.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the good or the bad ones?
I do. And poorly. The longer answers are that I read absolutely everything anyone has ever said about my writing, and I’m slowly figuring out how to assimilate all of it into a general pool of motivation. The best framework I have right now is for the good reviews to serve as confirmation that I’m on the right track, while the bad ones prove I still have a fair length to travel. And I’m becoming okay with that. I’m sure it gets easier around the third or fortieth book.
Are there any books that have been/ are being released in 2018 that you are excited to read?
Pretty much everything in SPFBO past and present. I’ve been holding myself to finishing edits on my second book before I dive into a reading binge, so I have about a thousand stories I’m excited to get to.
While you are locked in here for eternity, we will allow you one book – what would you choose?
The Silmarillion. That’s about the only way I’d properly get through the thing. I mean, I’ve technically read it, but I didn’t absorb much on the way. With unlimited time to unpack everything though, there are dozens of stories in that one book. I think it would keep me occupied for longer than almost anything else I might pick.
Well then, we hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Asylum! Any last words? *locks the door*
Thanks for the questions! I have to admit that I didn’t know this was a permanent thing when I agreed to stop by, but I do like the look of these complimentary jackets…
If you’d like to get in contact with Josh Erikson, you can find him on social media:
Check out my review and get Hero Forged by clicking on the cover below: